The R8's all-round ability, comfort, reliability and durability, reinforced by blinding speed and a bellowing V8 or V10 soundtrack, rocketed the Audi to the top of the list and reminded the Stuttgart manufacturer that it wasn't going to have the mantle all to itself in future. Our highway run does illustrate one of the R8's only negatives, copious tyre roar at speed. Between 100-140km/h an enormous amount of tyre roar is evident especially on coarse-chip surfaces.
Buyers won't consider it a deal breaker, but the optional 20-inch wheels fitted to our test vehicle don't help the situation. Interestingly, the launch vehicles are all fitted with Michelin rubber as opposed to the standard issue Pirellis apparently the Michelins are better able to cope with the track torture they will cop later on. The other negative depending on which way you look at it is the lack of a V8 version. That void shifts the price spread for the R8 and also shifts the playing field a little for the model. .
Before we arrive at the racetrack, we get to sample the all-new R8 on the roads around Faro and up into the hills on the rural outskirts. I strap myself into a piercing blue V10 Plus straight to the most-powerful model, of course select Comfort mode for the suspension and press the steering wheel-mounted button that liberates the exhaust note. There's an immediate change in pitch and volume and I know, even at idle, that Im going to love the soundtrack even if the locals don't..
A freeway on-ramp provides us with the first opportunity to stretch the V10's legs. Snap the left paddle shifter back two gears to third, bury the accelerator pedal and the speed piles on relentlessly up to an indicated 140km/h in a very short burst. The 0-200km/h sprint, dispatched in 9.9 seconds, is lightening fast and the top end of that we won't experience until we hit the track. The popping and crackling on downshifts, followed by a vicious snarl that becomes a bellow as the revs rise, cements the idea that the exhaust will never be in the quiet setting while I'm behind the wheel.
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